Turn 35 -- Druckner Makes a Racket

Dain sighs with irritation at the sight of the razor-rock. "Burn our accursed luck, we can't go on without supplies. Unless we can fly these mules throughout the caverns, I doubt there's any sense on going onward."

The frowning wizard peers forth into the murky ink of the cavern. "We might as well send a scout ahead and see how far it goes on like this. If it's only a short distance, we might be able to use the ropes and pulleys to lift the mules above the rock and then push them along a rope track on a pulley. I wouldn't count on it though, we only have a limited amount of rope to work with." Fresh out of ideas and believing that the company is going to be here a while, Dain finds a comfortable spot to sit and lights up his pipe and begins to think of the sea and his home.

As the smell of Dain's pipe begins to fill the tunnel, Gnore kicks at a patch of dirt with a frown. He nods his head in agreement with the words of Dain. "I'll not want to continue on without our supplies as well. Although the pulley idea seems far-fetched, any thought about the mules will be helpful now. Otherwise, we may be dancing with the grells soon enough." Gnore spouts as the ironic frustration of being stopped by razor-rock becomes almost too much for him to accept. The dwarf lets out a sigh then begins to chuckle to himself as the image of Ortho pulling on the mule's reigns flashes across his mind again.

Druckner turns dark red in frustration, "We've got ta respect ta rocks, but we got ta find a way ta go over them!" He thinks for a few more minutes before saying, "Ah've got it!"

Rummaging among the mules baggage, he finds two frying pans. He then takes out his carpentry tools and hammer. Several loud whacks of the hammer and a nail later, he manages to punch some holes into the rims of each frying pan. Ignoring the protestations and frowns of Dain who merely sees some of his best cookery being ruined, he passes some string through the holes. Slipping the two frying pans onto his shoes and pulling the strings tight, he grins broadly and shows off his fashionable footwear.

"Ah'll scout ahead wit' these things on me feet an' see how far it goes, mebbe we'll be able ta find a way ta get across. Mebbe ya won't have ta pull yar mules all ta way, Ortho!" He then heads off slowly, careful not to slip on the slick bottoms of the pans. Clang! Clang! Clang! Clang! echoes off the walls of the tunnel as Druckner begins his walk across the razor-rock.

Wincing at the volume of the noise, Garth adds with a little grin, "If we ever get out of here, I think we should consider joining a circus." Turning away from the slowly but loudly disappearing dwarf, Garth looks at his companions as they all watch the slow dwarf move away from them. "I'm thinking that if'n this cavern is on the map, there must be some way through. Perhaps a ledge up above or a hidden passage around. It wouldn't hurt for us to check it out while at least one of us keeps up a guard."

"That is a very wise suggestion, friend Garth. I'm probably the last person who should be searching for hidden passage or trying to avoid sharp rocks, so I guess that makes me a guard." Having said that, Beleg removes his helm and loosens his sword in its scabbard. He then takes a position where he can see both the passage from whence the party has come and the direction Druckner departed.

Garth nods at Beleg and begins to examine the floors, walls and ceiling for any inconsistencies, shifting, or other underground irregularities. His stubby fingers seem to run lovingly over the stone from time to time. At one point a small sigh and whisper can be heard to escape from his beard, "An t'think I drank it all away..."

Gnore listens to the exchange between Garth and Beleg but says nothing. Instead, he begins to search the cavern as Garth does, once in a while, grunting with mild frustration as he goes. "It has been so long..." Gnore whispers to himself.

"Come on, Ras," Kersath says with a nudge to his halfling companion. "We might as well add our considerable talents to the search. It'll keep you warm anyway," he ends with a mischievous smile to the halfling.

"Anything that'll do that I'm all for," responds the ever-cold thief.

"Let's see him cook the meals now," mutters Dain as he puffs on his pipe in frustration. "My best pans...How am I to work from now on? You don't take the brushes of a master painter and paint the side of a barn, do you?! I'm an excellent chef!" Continuing to mutter on at no one in particular, he takes out his travel log and by the light of his continual stone, he begins to update his map and add notes to the margin.

Still pondering the plausability of Dain's suggestion of air transport for the mules, Rannigan begins working through the logistics of a Levitate spell, a pair of mules and a Gust of Wind...

Feeling proud of his plan for moving across the razor-rock, Druckner ignores the danger of the loud pans striking the rocks beneath him and continues down the tunnel. Moving away from the continual light stones of Beleg and Dain, his heightened dwarven vision becomes more prominent. Darkness fades away and is replaced with the comforting glow of the cold stone around him. Ignoring the small heat sources of the rodents and other smaller creatures moving through the tunnel, he pays particular attention to any larger source of heat that might be a potential enemy. The odd height of the sharp rocks beneath his feet and their unpredictable consistency makes it slow going for the red-bearded dwarf, but he keeps moving on down the tunnel.

"Moradin's bloody beard, but this be slow," he mutters to himself.

After a slow but loud walk of a couple hundred yards, Druckner stops in the middle of the wide cavern. With razor-rock all around him, he frowns in frustration. "By the Nine Hells, thar be no way we kin move ta mules 'cross this. No wonder thar be no sign o'danger, this ground not fit fer man ner beast."

Hating the thought of having to back-track and face the grell nest, Druckner nonetheless turns back to walk toward his companions and give them the bad news. The echoes of his footfalls accompany the red-bearded dwarf as he makes his trek back.

"But how do you stop the mules once you reach the safety of a safe passage?" questions Dain of Rannigan as the two continue their discussion on the plausability of Rannigan's proposal.

"Ahh! A Gust of Wind from the opposite direction. An equal force of wind would stop the levitating mule in it's tracks! So to speak..." answers Rannigan with pride.

"But what if the angle of the wind is off the slightest, you might send the mule streaking toward the ceiling, the point of a stalactite, or straight down into the sharp razor-rocks! It's too risky."

"It'll work I say," responds Rannigan. "It'll work and I'll show you!" He turns and is about to prepare the levitate spell upon himself when the echo of Druckner's return announces his arrival. The two humans however, have to wait a few minutes before the form of the dwarf becomes outlined in the edges of their continual light stones. The frown on the face of the dwarf tells all that the possibilities are not good.

"The damnable tunnel goes on for several hun'erd yards at the least. Ah did'n even make et all ta way. Don' know how far ah got a'fore turnin' back." Druckner tells the others as he gasps for breath. "Walkin' in skillets shore is tirin'," he mutters as Dain moves over to examine the pans.

"Might be serviceable...maybe could fix the holes..."

"Well no matter, I've got a plan that can get the mules and us across," begins Rannigan. "Might take a while though."

"You've got no plan!" responds Dain in exasperation, as the far-fetched plan of Rannigan draws him from his examination of the pans. "Only a suggestion that will get us or the mules killed!"

"We can make it work, I know we can!"

"What did the others find," asks Talimar as he holds up a hand to quiet the arguing mages.

"Nothing," mutters Garth.

"The same," answers Ras for he and Kersath.

"The passage appears to be sound and no hidden route around," offers Gnore. "We checked both sides for a few hundred feet up."

"Aw, enuff o'this bloody searchin'", chimes in Snagger. "Let's jus' head back, smash these 'ere Grells outta our way and move on!" He shakes his axe to further his point.

"That may be our only way," agrees Beleg with a searching look to Talimar.

"Well, unless anyone comes up with anything brilliant, then it's backtrack we go," answers Talimar as he looks to the group for suggestions.

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